Hidden Apps and How to Find Them On Your Child’s Phone

Hidden Apps and How to Find Them On Your Child's Phone

You’re doing your job as a parent. You’re regularly checking your child’s phone to make sure they are using it appropriately, and you’re reviewing their app list to ensure they are only using apps you have approved.

But this may not be enough.

Kids have found a way around their parent’s smartphone checks and are now storing secret, hidden apps that hide the true contents of their phone.

What Is Your Teen Hiding on Their Phone?

A new type of smartphone application looks like regular, harmless app, but is actually designed to hide information.

These ghost, secret, or vault apps store information that your child or teen doesn’t want you to see such as:

  • Photos
  • Text Messages
  • Contact Lists
  • Internet Browsing History

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What Hidden Apps Are Kids Using?

A few of the most popular ghost, secret, and vault apps include the following.

Private Photo (Calculator%) — This app looks like a standard calculator app, but once you enter the password, you can access a secret folder where you can store images and files.

Private Browser and Photo (calculator%) — This vault app also looks like a calculator. Once you enter the passcode, you can browse the web and your internet history will only be visible in the app.

Calculator + Secret Photos App — Another app that appears to be a calculator, this ghost application allows users to store secret photos, passwords, notes, contacts, and browser history.

Best Secret Folder — This app claims to be, “Extremely Hard to Notice.” It stores videos and photos in a secret folder that will lock or activate an alarm if an intruder tries to log in.

CoverMe (Private Texting & Anonymous Messaging with Secure Phone Calls App) — Designed as a “secure messaging app,” CoverMe provides a private vault that hides personal contacts, messages, call logs, notes, photos, and videos.

These are just a few of the hidden apps that are available today, and it is likely that new versions will continue to enter the market. So, what should parents do about it?

What Can Parents Do About Hidden Apps?

The first thing parents need to do is become aware of the situation.

Knowing about these apps is the first step in prohibiting their use. 

“We realize that kids are not one, but ten steps ahead of their parents in term of technology, so parents have to be on guard and become familiar with what is going on,” explained Rania Mankarious of Crime Stoppers of Houston in an interview with ABC Eyewitness News.

Next, parents need to take action to stop their children from using these hidden apps. While you may not be able to tell which apps are secretive by browsing the app lists on your child’s phone (as some apps look harmless or may not show on the main screen), you can look at their recent download list.

Parents need to regularly review the apps their child has downloaded, and then research the apps so they understand their purpose and function. 

Being proactive and staying connected to your child in their digital world will always be one of the best ways to prevent your child from making dangerous mistakes online.

Connecting with your child online is easy with the MamaBear Peace of Mind Parenting™ app that enables you to check your child’s social media activity and texting habits from your phone. The free app which is available for both iPhones and Androids helps you stay in the know about your child’s smartphone habits.

Parental Text Message Monitoring Isn’t Snooping, It’s About Safety

test message monitoring

For many parents, the idea of  looking through their teen’s phone and text messages feels a little icky. Browsing through their personal messages may feel like reading their diary or invading their privacy.

But, keeping an eye on your child’s text messages isn’t about snooping; it’s about safety.

The Importance of Safety Over Privacy

As children grow up, they seek more independence, privacy, and freedom. It’s natural to let your child take more ownership of their lives, and it’s important to give them their space.

But, it’s just as important to stay connected to their lives.

As a parent, you need to know what is going on with your teen, what is happening in their life, and who they are communicating with. If your teen isn’t forthright about these details, it can create safety issues.

They may be hanging around with the wrong people, connecting with dangerous strangers, getting involved with illegal activities, or even starting to explore drugs and alcohol.

So if you feel like you are losing your connection with your teen, you need to do what you can to keep them safe. That may include checking their text messages.

When, If Ever, Is It Okay to Read Your Teen’s Text Messages?

Reading your teen’s text messages isn’t snooping if it can help keep them safe and protect them from dangerous strangers, bad influences, and sometimes even themselves.

If your teen starts doing any of the following, it may be time to take a deeper look into their lives.

  • Your teen starts to hide their phone or shield their messages from you.
  • Your teen quickly loses friends or joins a new group of friends.
  • Your teen starts sleeping more or spending more time in their room.
  • You catch your teen sneaking out or staying out too late.
  • Your teen stops spending time with family.
  • Your teen’s habits begin to change.
  • Your teen’s looks begin to change.

These can be signs that something bigger is going on with your teen. They may be struggling or dealing with issues that are outside of the scope of typical adolescence.

If you feel like something deeper is going on in your teen’s life, monitoring their text messages may help you find out what is happening and give you an opportunity to provide the help and support your teen needs.

How To Respectfully Monitor Your Teen’s Text Messages

If you decide to monitor their text messages to get a better idea about what is going on in their lives, the MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™ can help.

Our app offers a text message monitoring tool that connects parents and teens.

When a teen installs the MamaBear app on their Android device, their incoming and outgoing text messages can be recorded and sent to the parent’s version of the app.

To set up text message monitoring:

  1. Install MamaBear on your teen’s phone. (While Mamabear is available for iPhones and Androids, the teen version of the text message monitoring tool is only available for Androids at this time.)
  2. Install MamBear on the parent’s phone. (The parent version of the text message monitoring tool works for both iPhone and Androids.)
  3. From the child’s phone, go to the profile settings, tap “text alerts.” Tap “Turn On” in the top right-hand corner.

Monitoring your teen’s text messages may feel like snooping, but the upside far outweighs the downside.

By connecting with your teen’s digital life, you may identify and prevent problems in your teen’s life and help keep them safer, happier, and healthier.

Get the MamaBear app now by downloading it for both iPhone and Android devices.

“Teen Dating” Facebook Group May Be Linked to a 13-Year-Old Girl’s Death

Nicole Lovell

As you scroll through the page of the Facebook group “Teens Dating 17+100[Note: Link may include explicit content.], it’s difficult to tell what type of online community it is.

As the name suggests, there are photos of smiling teens and silly selfies. But for every innocent teen image, there are four or five explicit and pornographic photos and a stream of requests that invite strangers to connect and rate photos, comments that bully and belittle, and posts that share personal information and welcome members to contact and “friend” each other.

Despite what its name implies, Teen Dating 17+100 is a dangerous digital space for an adult to find themselves, let alone a child or a teen. This group is just one of the popular communities of “Teen Dating” networks that are on Facebook, and parents need to take notice.

The Danger of Teen Dating Facebook Groups

Teen Dating Facebook Groups are nothing new to social media. Groups that invite teens to join and connect with each other have been around for years.

But the true ugliness and danger of these sites recently came to light when the death of 13-year-old girl in Virginia was connected to the group, “Teen Dating and Flirting.”

On January 1st, a 7th grader, Nicole Lovell posted a selfie in the group with the caption, “cute or nah.” The photo received over 300 responses, many of them which were mean and vicious. Just a few weeks later, Lovell was found dead.

Police believe that Lovell may have been lured to her death by a member of the group who saw her saw her online.

How to Protect Your Teen

Parents need to take notice that these innocent sounding “teen” groups are actually places for dangerous adults and predators to find, bully, and pray on young teens.

To keep your kids safe from Facebook teen groups and others like it, we recommend that you:

  • Pay attention to the apps your kids are using and use them yourself. If your kid is on Facebook, get on Facebook. Create a profile on all of the social media apps they use so you can be aware of the platform, how it works, and who uses it.
  • Don’t expect your kids to tell you all of the apps they use. Check their phones to review newly installed apps and to open up the apps to try them out. Kids will often create multiple accounts to hide their activity, so log in from their phones to see what they are doing.
  • Periodically check their online communication to make sure they are only talking with trusted and known family and friends.
  • Don’t give your teen unlimited access to their phones and computers. Regulate when and where they use their devices so you can better monitor their activity and usage.
  • Report any suspicious activity to law enforcement. If you do find that a stranger has formed an inappropriate relationship with you child, don’t delay. Notify law enforcement immediately.

As a parent, monitoring all of your children’s social media activity is a big job, but it is an extremely important job. So, make it a priority.

You can use the MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™ to simplify the management of your social media check-ins. The free app, available for both iPhones and Androids, enables parents to connect their profile with their children’s social media accounts so checking in and keeping your kids safe is easy and effective. 

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Family Safety in 2016

As we start 2016, MamaBear would like to wish you and your family a happy and safe New Year. We hope you use these resources (along with the other helpful posts on our blog) and the MamaBear App to make 2016 the best and safest year yet.

To start this year on the right foot and protect your family while providing yourself peace of mind, get MamaBear for free on both iPhone and Android devices.